NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
Mr. James Hickey, Jr.
MR. HICKEY: Good afternoon, Chairwoman James and Commissioners. I'm James Hickey, President of the American Horse Council, and we very much appreciate this opportunity to appear before you on behalf of the horse racing industry.
The American Horse Council includes the major associations of racetracks, breeders' groups, and horsemen's organizations, which collectively comprise the parimutuel racing industry in the United States.
Our individual members include horse owners, breeders, jockeys, drivers, trainers, veterinarians, farriers, and others whose livelihood depend on the horse and racing.
Parimutuel horse racing is legal in 43 states and involves the racing of thoroughbreds, standard breeds, quarter horses, Arabians, Appaloosas and paints. Racing and race horse breeding is a widespread and diverse industry that includes gambling, sport, recreation, and entertainment and is built upon an agricultural base that involves the breeding and training of the horses.
Barrett's Group of Washington, D.C., recently completed a study of the economic impact of the horse industry in the United States, and we'll be very happy to share that with you. The study showed that nearly one million people from various economic levels and 725,000 horses are involved in racing. Racing and breeding have a total economic impact in the U.S. of 34 billion and support nearly half a million jobs. Ours is a very, very labor intensive industry.
Parimutuel racing has been conducted in the United States for over 75 years. In every state that has been authorized it is regulated very closely in all respects by a state racing commission.
Racing also attracts many fans who appreciate it as a sport. This spring's exciting pursuit of the Triple Crown by Silver Charm certainly piqued the interest of a broader class of Americans, a broader base of Americans, showing there is a continuing interest in horse racing outside of betting.
While horse racing is a sport that involves wagering, parimutuel system is fundamentally different than other forms of gambling. In horse racing, the bettors wager against each other, not the house. The process of betting involves handicapping, and many people spend a great deal of time analyzing a race, and of course others bet based upon the color of the horse.
As you conduct your review, please remember that not all forms of gambling are expanding and growing. The parimutuel racing industry has been affected by the growth of other forms of gambling, other forms of sport, other forms of entertainment. It is up to us, however, to compete in this new environment, and we are trying to do so.
It is critical to the future of the racing industry that this and the agribusiness it supports, the state revenue and employment it generates, and the sporting and entertainment benefits it provides to countless fans that this Commission understand the racing industry.
We want to work with you over the next two years and the staff to insure that your report is complete and invaluable.
In closing, we urge the Commission to hold a hearing dedicated to this industry so that we can have representatives report to you in more detail about our important and diverse industry, and we invited you to hold a hearing as part of a site visit to a major racing and breeding facility.
Thank you very much.